The decision is out, and the preparations are under way. Auckland Transport won consent for the new layout at Ngapipi Road / Tamaki Drive, and have announced they will start construction work as early as April. That’s fast, especially considering how long it’s taken to get to this stage!
As you’ll know from previous articles (2013, 2015, 2016), the current intersection is one of the worst for cyclists in Auckland. It also ranks as one of the Top 10 unsafe intersections in the country, and it isn’t winning any medals either when it comes to drivers or, especially, pedestrians. So it’s long overdue for a fix.
The initial new layout proposed late last year didn’t get much love from the community at large. Some opposed it on the basis that it would add delays for drivers, and some people on bikes disliked it because it will add a traffic signal in a currently signal-free stretch of waterfront. And many people didn’t like it because it seemed inconsistent and not a good enough ‘best practice’ improvement for bikes.
Subsequently, Bike Auckland engaged Auckland Transport in discussion of the finer points, and the design that finally went to the consent hearing was significantly different from the one initially proposed.
We have explained here what was changed. And why some things people criticised were NOT changed (for example, why there are still both cycle lanes and shared paths: basically, because until the future road upgrades happen to the west and east, we’ll need both).
In the end, we were quite chuffed with the improved design – mainly because it adds more protection for the cycle lanes, and significantly improves the safety for right turns. The full plan of the new design is here – the file is a bit finicky, so check out the screenshot below:
As we hoped, the comissioners granted the consent (consent was required in large part due to the land reclamation proposed). If you’re interested, the full text of the decision is here, and we have excerpted the key traffic summary points in the screenshot to the right (click to enlarge).
Is the consented design all good and sorted now? Not quite. There are some minor improvements that we’ll discuss with AT directly (for example, the westbound cycle lane narrows into a bit of a funnel as it approaches the first pedestrian crossing).
But our advocacy work now shifts to other big issues nearby.
One of the key elements that remains to be sorted in this new design is the western bridge over the Hobson Bay outlet channel. As you can just see on the left of the plan above, the cycle lanes begin and end before the bridge. For eastbound road riders, this may make it hard to get to the cycle lane in the first place when traffic queues develop back from the lights, with drivers potentially hugging the curb. And westbound riders are still stuck with the unpleasant alternative of riding onto the shared path, or merging with through traffic.
AT have clarified that the bridge will need to be replaced or significantly upgraded anyway, possibly as soon as within 10 years. As such, it may be possible to pull this project ahead – or at least provide some sort of clip-on or similar treatment that will provide continuity for cycle movements across the bridge, into the new intersection.
This, and the Urban Cycleway works west of here toward the City Centre, now become our key focus – to make sure that the safety improvements that have been won here can be maximised.